It’s been a busy week, and I’m ready to kick back with a glass of wine (now if only I had a tub to soak in!). For me, settling down with a nice, full-bodied red is just what the doctor ordered, and I’m glad I get to do so while the snow is piling up outside. No better excuse to stay in! Even my travels knew this moment was in my future:
This week we’re diving into petite sirah!
Petite sirah is the love child of syrah and peloursin, which is a more rare grape from France. Though it got its start in France (and is also known as “durif”), petite sirah is now primarily grown stateside, specifically in California. We can expect a big flavor profile and balance among the notable wine characteristics: big on fruit, tannins, body and alcohol with medium acidity. This wine should produce darker fruit flavors – like blueberry, blackberry, and plum – along with some pepper or chocolate. That’s not altogether too surprising considering what its parent grape, syrah, offers (but let’s revisit that in a future post). A bonus factoid I learned is that petite sirah, along with other high tannin reds, have 2-3x as many antioxidants as their lighter-bodied red friends…so drinking this wine does have health benefits! HIGH FIVES! Also, because of the high tannin profile, this wine pairs well with rich and fatty foods (hearty meats and cheeses), as those tannins help clear your palate of those particles, so you’re ready for the next bite!
For this week’s tasting, I chose Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Top Brand of the Year: Line 39‘s 2016 Petite Sirah from California. What’s super interesting: the bottle says it’s 14.5% ABV, but the website says 13.5%….hmmmm. Either way, pretty high alcohol content, which I’m sure we’ll be able to sense on the palate. Per their website, Line 39 ages their petite sirah in French oak barrels after going through steel fermentation. To get the deep red and purple colors in full-bodied reds, along with high tannin levels, the grape skins soak with the wine for a long period of time during fermentation. That’s what adds all those antioxidants into the wine itself, and allows it to develop into a dark, and opaque liquid.
Let’s talk a little bit about Line 39 in general. This brand is so aptly named, as the 39th parallel actually runs through it, which makes this a cooler climate for winemaking. When grapes are grown in cooler climates, they tend to have a bit more acidity because the grapes have a bit more difficulty ripening. However, the vineyards which produce the grapes for the petite sirah are nestled in that mid-climate region, bringing warmth and a cool breeze from California’s Central Coast, so they were able to achieve lower acidity.
Onto the tasting:
Appearance: This one poured a nice purply red (Crayola color violet-red, not red-violet). I filled the glass with a couple ounces, and couldn’t even see through it. Ah, those lovely tannins! I also noted, as I swirled my glass (see more below), that the wine stuck to the sides of the glass for a while, and had loooong legs once they finally started to drop.
Nose: I picked up a lot of black cherry, with some plum on top of a bit of spice. It smelled zesty/bright at first and, while I don’t have a better way to describe it, it seemed as though I could smell the actual tannins! It hit the back of my throat/nasal cavity in a way I hadn’t felt before. Pretty sure I picked up a bit of oak on the nose as well, which would explain that underlying baking spice note.
Taste: Well-balanced wine which lightly coated the mouth (my first sip, I always swish it around, as recommended by Wine Folly’s Madeline). It was a smooth, easy drinker, which further evidenced that it’d pair nicely with a variety of foods, but was also great alone. I will say that it didn’t taste like a wine that had a higher ABV, but that could be a good thing. You could taste a little depth, though I expected this to be a bit bigger? I thought all the aromas on the nose noted above really contributed to creating balanced flavor.
Overall: Definitely a nice wine that I think would complement many meals well. This was quite a steal, coming in under $10.
So I love swirling my wine in the glass. It’s one of those things I always find myself doing, similar to how people twirl their hair or tapping a pen. But it’s not just a reflex, it’s actually great to do when drinking wine. Swirling is largely done to help aerate the wine, but it also coats the glass with the wine so you’re better able to pick up on the aromas! It’s actually two-fold, helping to open up the wine and let it breathe which helps you formulate the full flavor profile! I’ll leave you with a picture of those beautiful legs from tonight’s tasting (I know it’s blurry, but you can still see those long, red legs!):
Happy drinking, and happy weekend!